Vitamin D

Vitamin D

There are many factors that dictate how human beings lead their lives. These factors range from social, economic to political ones. The social aspect spells out the well being of the human species on a daily basis. This is in terms of health, how human beings relate with each other as well as the main sociological aspect. In relation to this case study, we will discuss the health of the human beings as a main branch of the sociological aspect of a human life. To be specific, we will discuss vitamin D: its source as well as its contributions in the human life. The terminology vitamin D does not belong to a particular item. Instead, it is a terminology used to refer to secosteroids which are fat soluble, and are mainly help the human beings to absorb phosphates and calcium (Epstein, 20120. That is from consumed food in to the blood stream. From there, these phosphates together with the calcium elements are delivered to other parts of the body, to help in building up the human body as well as improve its immune system.

These secosteroids, which are also referred to as Vitamin D have to be, fat soluble so that they can enhance the absorption of these phosphates together with calcium in the small intestines. According to Wishart, Vitamin D is one of the most significant vitamins in the human body (Wishart, 2012). This vitamin is divided into two different categories, depending on the componential as well as the functional aspect. However, the human body tends to benefit more from the two types. That is; vitamin D2 and vitamin D3. Vitamin D2 is also referred to as ergocalciferal while vitamin D3 is also called cholecalciferol (Dowd & Stafford, 2008). Scientists argue that in as much as these secosteroids are called vitamins, they tend to have distinct characteristics with any other vitamins known. This is because they can be achieved through simple practices like exposure to sunlight, excluding them as essential dietary vitamins. However, vitamin D can be obtained like a dietary system if an organism cannot achieve it through exposure to sunlight. For instance, some scientists have come to disagree on the contribution of the exposure to sun factor in achieving this vitamin D. In fact, according to them, the sun would offer more harmful factors in effort of obtaining this vitamin. The most common negative effect would be radiation, which would later result in development of cancerous cells. Therefore, they believe that this vitamin can only be best achieved through dietary means like adding it to staple foods like milk.

This vitamin was never discovered until scientists went in the field of researching on what would be the main cause of a disease called rickets. This was after scientists discovered that this disease was mainly occurring as a result of lacking some essential dietary substance (Hochberg, 2003). They discovered that this substance was essential in building as well as maintaining good structure as well as water strength content in bones. They also discovered that this vitamin was essential in promoting immune as well as neural muscular activity in the human body. As a result, this in return would prevent high mortality rates in young children as well as in the elderly people from the disease (Normarn et al, 2004). To date, almost all the world population take the sun as the main source of vitamin D. On top of that, scientists have also been doing research on foods that can contribute in synthesis of vitamin D. they include; salmon, shiitake mushrooms, pasture-raised chicken  eggs, sardines and grass- fed cow’s milk.

If were to look at these sources one factor stands out, almost all of them relies on the sun significantly. That is why these scientists have specified that grass-fed cow’s milk act as a reliable source of vitamin D. The same case applies in eggs, since they are recommending of the ones which are from chicken that are pasture- raised. This is because, the sun ultra violet rays acts as a medium of synthesizing these fat soluble secosteroids in plants that these cows and chicken feed on (Feldman et al, 2011). In fact, the scientific explanation behind the achievement of these secosteroids is; when the sun rays strikes and plants, vitamin D2 is obtained. This through the conversion of ergosterol found in these plants into ergocalciferol by the ultra violet rays (Feldman et al, 2011). This is exactly the same way that human beings achieve vitamin D through exposure to the sun. This happens when cholesterol found in our bodies is hit by these ultra violet rays converting it into the infamous cholecalciferal, also referred to as vitamin D3. However, the body does not take in vitamin D in its D3 or D2 form. Further metabolic processes are initiated and carried out in the lungs, liver, skin, kidneys, in the macrophage cells, brain, prostate and blood vessel linings in achieving hydroxyvitamin D (Norman et al, 2004). This hydroxyvitamin D is later broken down to form dihydroxyvitamin D, which the body uses to strengthen our bones, immune system among other uses. Therefore, whether it is through plants, foods of staple foods, the sun remains the main source of vitamin D if not the medium to its synthesis.

Vitamin D has many functions in our bodies. Many people take the main function of vitamin D as only to prevent rickets through improving as well as regulating bone health. Well, this is not the case. This vitamin has many other functions. They include; promoting immune health, cardiovascular health, controlling blood pressure, enhanced muscle function, insulin regulation as well as cancer prevention (Epstein, 2012). We will now discuss each of the following points independently so that we can get a clear thesis on vitamin D’s functions. To start with, the vitamin D’s regulation of body health is achieved through constant flow, and synthesis of calcium and phosphorus in a human body.  These are the main mineral contents that make up the human bone as they combine to form hydroxyapatite, a substance that makes more than 50% of any bone composition (Norman et al, 2004). What we need to understand is that the health of the bone is determined by many factors including estrogen and testosterone. However, hydroxyapatite ensures regular metabolism of calcium and phosphorus as well as their passage in human body.

These elements also being in the bones makes sure that any health matters that would arise from deficiency of calcium and phosphorus are addressed. This is through providing two regulator hormones found in the bone in form of vitamin D and parathyroid hormone (PTH) (Hochberg, 2003). The parathyroid glands excrete calcium from the bones whenever this element is running low in other parts of the body boosting our health.  The PTH also ensures that balanced calcium levels are retained in our kidneys and also excretion of phosphorus for different metabolic activities in the body is maintained. When vitamin D is excreted in the bones, it assists the small intestines in enhancing their absorption activity in the human body. Vitamin D also assists our kidneys in retaining calcium as well as promoting excretion of phosphorus from the bones for any metabolic activity in the body (Wishart, 2012). Therefore, these two hormones work together in keeping the calcium and phosphorus levels in our blood stream in check.

That leads us to the next function; cardiovascular health as well as blood pressure regulation. The human body has a system commonly referred to as the rennin-angiotensin system by scientists. This system is responsible for keeping the blood pressure in check especially in situations where it may be below the recommended levels. Therefore, it is up to this system to make sure that the blood pressure never gets too low, or too high in effort of maintaining the right pressure. Vitamin D plays a vital and direct role in ensuring that never happens. This is because it inhibits as well as enhances the activity of this system (Feldman et al, 2011). According to Hoffman, the main function of vitamin D in this system is to ensure that this it does not again raise the blood pressure too high while executing its correction measures (Hoffman, 2008). Other than that, scientists believe that vitamin D also plays other vital roles of inhibiting as well as keeping different cardiac vascular activities in check. Scientists continue to research on other benefits of vitamin D in other cardiac vascular activities. However, as of now it is known that vitamin helps in healing processes of the heart tissue especially in cases where heart attacks have been observed.

Other than the above function, vitamin D helps in regulating as well as inhibiting the activities of the immune system in a human body (Epstein, 2012).  Scientists have embarked on large scale research on benefits of vitamin D on the immune system, after it proved to contribute a great deal in regulating different diseases. They include; multiple sclerosis, rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease as well as many other autoimmune diseases. In fact, research has shown that the macrophage cells as well as the dendritic cells in the human immune system have vitamin D receptor cells (VDRs). These cells receive any metabolic activity inhibited by vitamin D in the human body. The most common activity inhibited by the human immune system is releasing antibacterial peptides that keep away infections in this system (Feldman et al, 2011). The most common of these peptides are in form of protein parts like cathelicidin, which plays a vital role in preventing leprosy as well as tuberculosis.

Vitamin D also plays a significant role in maintaining blood sugar as well as regulating insulin levels in a human body.  Scientists have not come up with any concrete evidence as how this vitamin contributes in the above factor. However, type 2 diabetes seems to be more prominent in patients who have low levels of vitamin D (Wishart, 2012). Therefore, we would be in the right track if we were to say that this vitamin prevents the body against diabetes type 2.  Other than that, scientists are still doing research of what they think is the main function of vitamin D in regulating blood sugar as well as insulin. That is; secretion of insulin in the pancreatic beta cells. Scientists also believe that Vitamin D helps in formation of a protein called GLUT -4, which has the responsibility of transporting glucose between human cells and the main blood stream (Wishart, 2012).

Vitamin D has also been primarily associated with muscle strength, composition as well as functioning. According to Hoffman, scientists believe that less muscle composition and too much fat concentration in our bodies are some of the many effects of vitamin D deficiency. These scientists believe that vitamin D does not only boost muscle strength, it also promotes muscle mass (Hoffman, 2008). They argue that this vitamin promotes development of muscles and other ligaments necessary in controlling bones movements. This means that availability of vitamin D in the body promotes muscle development, nerve triggering as well as firing the nerves that coordinate body movements (Hoffman, 2008). This would reduce the risks of dislocations, as well as falling.

Vitamin D has also been said to assist in cancer prevention. This perception however, is still under investigation. This does not mean that we out rule the contributions of this vitamin in prevention of this disease. In fact, substances that contain a lot of phosphorus and calcium have been recommended as effective preventive measure against different forms of cancer (Dowd & Stafford, 2008). They include; prostate, ovarian, breast, bladder, colon as well as rectal cancer. This has opened up research on other possible function of this vitamin since it seems to inhibit more than what many people used to think in the past. In fact, scientists are researching on the possibility of vitamin D as a main autoimmune component in disease like psoriasis. Scientists also believe that this vitamin plays a major role in depression as well as many other mood disorders (Epstein, 2012).  They also believe that vitamin D has a cognitive function in diseases like the Alzheimer’s disease and the Senile dementia.

Looking at the above information, it is very clear that vitamin D is significantly essential in our human body. This is because it shows many ways in which it contributes in different metabolic activities as well as prevention of many diseases in the human body. In relation to this context, we will discuss rickets as a deficiency of vitamin D. Rickets remain as the main disease that occurs as result of vitamin D deficiency in young ones (Hochberg, 2003). To make matters worse, once this disease takes effect, it might never be correctable. This disease can be defined as unusual softening of bones in mammals, mostly in immature ones due to lack of enough vitamin D. This disease is characterized with curving or bending of bones, brought about by insufficient bones mineralization (Hochberg, 2003). This disease can affect all mammals. However, in human beings, this disease is well noticed when young children start to walk. This happens when long bones in the human body are too weak or soft to carry the weight of the other parts of the human body, resulting in bow legs. Sometimes these bones even fracture as a result of being too weak to carry the individual in question.

This disease was first described by Francis Glisson in 1650 after he discovered a wide number of individuals who had this deficiency in the South West England in the early 1920s (Hochberg, 2003). The most common symptoms of this disease include skeletal deformities, muscle weakness, bone tenderness, recurring fractures, dental problems, tetany, costochondral swelling, growth disturbance, Harrison’s Grove, Hypocalcaemia as well as wrist widening in small infants among others. Scientists prefer dividing this disease in different types. They include; congenital rickets, vitamin D-dependent rickets, Vitamin D-resistant rickets, new born rickets and nutritional rickets.  In as much as these types are many and they seem to suggest different factors, they have one thing in common. That is; all of them are as a result of vitamin D deficiency. Availability of vitamin D in the human being enhances calcium and phosphorus absorption in the body. These are the key elements in keeping all the bones in the young children as well as in other small mammals in good condition (Dowd & Stafford, 2008). In as much there are dietary sources of this vitamin, scientists argue that absorption from these sources remain insufficient especially in young children.

Therefore, exposure to sunlight is recommended as conversion of Vitamin D from inactive to a active form is much more fast and takes little time to take effect in a child’s body. Scientists also argue that Vitamin D3, which is achieved through exposure to sunlight, is also easier to absorb in the human blood stream than vitamin D2 which can be obtained from dietary sources (Wishart, 2012). This disease can be detected early in children especially in cases where wrists of a young child widen in early development stages. Other than that, there are blood tests in use nowadays, for detecting the levels of calcium in a child’s body.  There is also another process called bone biopsy, performed on young children in effort of trying to detect the disease. The treatment and prevention measures of this disease still come down to one method, use of vitamin D (Feldman et al, 2011). This is either through exposure to sunlight, which is the most effective or use of dietary methods. However, severe cases may call for severe measures when dealing with rickets. Therefore, doctors sometimes result to surgery, removing bones that may be highly severed by the disease.

In relation to the above disease, mature mammals and especially human beings also suffer from effects that emanate from Vitamin D deficiency. Osteoporosis is the most common disease that comes with deficiency of vitamin D in mature people (Hoffman, 2008). Osteoporosis can be defined as the mature version of the rickets disease, as it inhibits a decrease in bone density as well as their masses. This lowering in density as well as the mass of a bone can easily cause fractures in mature people. This mainly occurs when the bone micro architecture weakens due to poor bone mineralization. This alters and weakens the protein content of the bones, making it hard them to support the weight of the other body parts (Hoffman, 2008). This disease affects young men and women as well as the old population. However, women tend to be more affected by this disease more than their male counterparts, especially when they reach menopause. As a result, the World Health Organization (WHO) have come up with classifications of this disease according to stages in which it affects women in relation to their age.

To start with, there is the primary type 1 osteoporosis. The world health organization has classified this type as the most common type witnessed when many women reach their menopause age of between 45 and 55yrs (Hoffman, 2008). The world health organization also refers to this type as Postmenopausal osteoporosis. Other than this type, there is senile osteoporosis, or the primary type 2, which the world health organization has classified its effects at the age of 75 and in women. However, at the age of 75, the world health organization argues that this disease is witnessed with both men and women, although on a ratio of 2:1 (Epstein, 2012). According to WHO, there are many reasons why this disease may be witnessed including prolonged effects of chronic diseases as well as being under medication for a longtime. Use of asteroids has been classified as of the main a major contributor to osteoporosis at a later age.

This disease does not have any specific symptoms. It is only discovered after healthy individuals who would not be associated with fractures especially in the hip region, vertebral column, ribs as well as wrists. Sometimes recurring falls are associated with this disease, although fractures are classified as the most dangerous as well as the most common symptoms of this disease (Hoffman, 2008). However, this disease can also be diagnosed through conventional radiography. Once detected, medical practitioners recommend the use of bisphosphonates in effort of trying to discourage fracturing in the future (Norman et al, 2004).  Drugs like residronate, alendronate, raloxifene, etidronate and strontium have also been recommended for prevention measures against fractures especially in women who are already in their menopause.

In conclusion, there are so many ways that vitamins contribute to our daily well being in the society. Having studied all the above information, there is no doubt how important vitamin D is in the human being. For instance, most people in the world know that basking in the sun is important. Some also even know that they get vitamin D in the sun. However, I do not think many people know the advantages of basking in the sun, other than just the fact they are getting vitamin D. The above information brings out more than enough factors on the benefits of the sun in our health system. I mean, even if there is vitamin D2 and vitamin D3, one thing is common about the two: their vitamin content can be traced back to the ultra violet rays. That is why we have dietary sources of this vitamin also looking for materials that have been obtained from areas where sunlight is in abundance.

Other than that, there is also the fact that many scientists have now embarked on a large scale research in the efforts of trying to find out the benefits that come with Vitamin D in the body. This is on the areas being speculated on, and also on a new level that has never been explored before. I feel that in as much as science keeps developing on a daily basis and there is no perfect research, many benefits of vitamin D in our bodies are about to be discovered. I have a feeling that other than rickets and osteoporosis, many more disease can be associated with vitamin D deficiency in our bodies. This is because the human body does not need calcium and phosphorous only for bones and muscles strengthening. There are many metabolic activities in the human body, which rely on these two elements, which cannot be well effective or even functional without vitamin D in presence. Therefore, I find myself in no other corner other than to agree with Wishart that vitamin D is one of the most essential vitamins in human life.


Dowd, J., & Stafford, D. (2008). The vitamin D cure. Hoboken, N.J: John Wiley & Sons.

Epstein, S. (2012). Vitamin D. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders.

Feldman, D., Adams, J. S., & Pike, J. W. (2011). Vitamin D. s.l.: Elsevier professional.

Hochberg, Z. (2003). Vitamin D and rickets. Basel: Karger.

Hoffmann, G. (2008). Osteoporosis. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark.

Norman, R, Workshop on vitamin D, Bouillon, A. W., & Pasqualini, J. R. (2004). Vitamin D. Amsterdam: Elsevier.

Wishart, I. (2012). Vitamin D. Auckland, N.Z: Howling At The Moon Pub.